Author: Anisa Tufa
The National Education Strategy 2021-2026, drawn up with the support of UNICEF Albania for the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth, cites that in 2018 and 2019 the capital expenditures of MASR have reached the amount of 6.52 billion lek (~ EUR 53 million), but capital funds for school libraries are limited.
In November of last year, the Minister of Education Mr. Evis Kushi announced the opening of the call for experts for members of the artistic and scientific literature recommendation boards for school libraries in pre-university education. In her speech Mrs. Khushi emphasized that “the purpose of this call is to enrich school libraries with new books, as well as to encourage reading among our students”.
However, despite significant capital investments by the Ministry of Education in the education sector and initiatives to improve the situation of libraries in pre-university education, the situation still remained grim. Especially in cities far from Tirana and the main centers of the Western Lowlands.
Every high school in Dibra has a library, but they lack books and funds.
In the gymnasiums of Dibra (the gymnasium of Muhurri, the two gymnasiums of Peshkopia Said Najdeni, Nazmi Rushiti, Slovo, Maqellara and Kastriot), the libraries not only lack supply of new books, but also the books that are in the mandatory reading curriculum are missing.
In the Muhurri high school, the students take the books and distribute them among each other. Even if they are damaged, there is no punitive measure. Damaged or lost books are not replaced due to lack of funds.
“Because the library has no heating, I am forced to trust the students by giving them the key to get the books they need”, says Bashkim Ciku, teacher of Albanian language and literature and at the same time in charge of the school library.
In Said Najdeni high school, the question of how students get their books outside of school does not make sense. The high school has never had a library.
The literature teacher at the Muhurri high school says that “old” books… are not suitable for today’s age group. The teachers themselves, in cooperation with associations or individuals, select some of the books that the students can read.
“We have secured a good part of the books from associations and individuals and not from the Ministry of Education”.
From the list of compulsory reading books, according to the library managers of Dibra high schools, no school has all the compulsory reading books.
According to them, this ranking is for all students of Dibra high schools, despite the fact that the lists are not the same for each school. So, if one high school has a list of three books for compulsory reading, the other has 4 or 5, books thus deciding for themselves what books to read.
In the high school of Kastriot, according to the students, the list of books is obligatory, but there is no orientation or obligation from the teaching staff.
The lack of reading facilities is a problem in all high school libraries, but the answer is ready: “students take them to read at home”.
According to the manager of the public library, Dibra’s high schools are equipped with libraries, but there is a lack of books, even those that are not required by young readers.
The city library in the same situation as school libraries
Florinda Sela, director of the Peshkopia Library, says that the book fund is enriched only by donors, “mainly writers” who offer the books they publish.
In the city library, interested parties can only take one book, because “they are damaged by careless readers”.
Although reading facilities are not missing, they are not in the function of readers. The lack of heating in winter and the fear that the books will be “misused by the readers”, has made the reading rooms to be used only for literary meetings. But these meetings are few and far between.